The Colours of Rangoon and The Colours of Life

by Brenna Holeman

Red in Rangoon 7

Burmese Red

Burma Orange

Burmese Orange

Burma Yellow

Burmese Yellow

Burma Green

Burmese Green

Burma Blue

Burmese Blue

Burma Indigo

Burmese Indigo

Burma Violet

Burmese Violet

There’s a stretch of the imagination needed when looking at a few of these photos, I admit. Sometimes the colour isn’t spotted immediately; sometimes it’s hidden amongst the other colours in the photo, relegated to the corner or nearly out of frame.

It’s been over a year since I’ve lived nomadically, over a year since I’ve carried a heavy backpack on my shoulders. The last six months in London, and the six months scattered around the UK and Canada before that, were still astoundingly full of adventure. I’ve travelled a lot and done a lot of amazing things, but the difference was that these things were sandwiched between moments of calm, between school and work and paying rent.

When I’ve spent prolonged periods of time steadily travelling – nine months in 2012, or most of 2011, say – it’s easy to find the colour. It’s easy to see the excitement and the adventure; it’s right in front of you, tangible and resolute. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in the last year has been to find these things on my own, find things that are not simply plopped down in front of me and asked to be discovered. This always happens when we live somewhere, doesn’t it? We start to lose a sense of how fascinating our doorstep really is. We start to forget that, to somebody else, this place is new, and exciting, and colourful.

When I walked out of my hostel in Rangoon all those years ago, I couldn’t stop whirling around, taking in all of my surroundings. I felt overcome by my senses: the jangling of the sugar cane man’s bells, the smell of frying vegetables, the air so thick and humid I could open my mouth and drink it in. And the colours, too, drip-drying at the laundry and splashed across markets and swirled on the faces of those around me.

Today is another grey day in London. I’ll walk along the canal like I always do, face its murky green water and its brown brick walls. But I am so happy to be here. I am happy to have to work a little harder to find the adventure and the excitement. I know it’s all around me, if only I’ll turn my head. I maintain that London is one of the most amazing cities in the world, and one of my favourites. I am happy to look for the colours in this life of routine, even if they’re nearly out of frame. If I can’t find adventure here, well, that’s my fault.


A splash of colour on Regent’s Canal, London

Six months living in London and I’m happier than ever. How do you feel about where you live? Do you actively seek out adventures and excitement? 

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Nikita March 4, 2014 - 6:06 pm

Great post! I find that traveling has helped me recognize the beauty of home (wherever that may be at the time) and makes the idea of a comfort zone incredibly uncomfortable. To me, traveling is less about actually moving around than maintaining an adventurous state of mind.
May London continue to amaze you!

Brenna Holeman March 4, 2014 - 10:37 pm

Thanks for your comment, Nikita! I agree that travelling makes me appreciate home in a different way. And I love that line, that travelling is about maintaining an adventurous state of mind. So true!

Lindsey March 5, 2014 - 5:32 am

You’re right, it’s so much harder to appreciate the place you’re in when it’s not highlighted by the moment if travelling.

Brenna Holeman March 5, 2014 - 6:06 pm

I really try to be ‘present’ all the time, which means constantly looking for adventure! It can be difficult when I’m in one place for a while, but I try to do something new every day…

Zalie March 6, 2014 - 1:08 pm

Your pictures were beautiful as always! I loved the blue fish and the red of the monks and their temple. Since most of Tel Aviv( and Israel itself) is painted in shades of yellow, beige, and white, I am always taken aback when there is a splash of colour somewhere. I think I appreciate it so much more living here. Oh, and I had no idea watermelon could be yellow! xo

Brenna Holeman March 6, 2014 - 2:30 pm

Thanks, Zalie! Myanmar was such a photogenic country, you’d love it. There was so much colourful fruit, too, it was amazing. I didn’t know watermelon could be yellow until then, either…

Cara Lim March 6, 2014 - 5:10 pm

You’re such an inspiration. Your blog keeps me motivated to work harder and travel more. Sending love from Borneo! ❤️

Brenna Holeman March 6, 2014 - 9:30 pm

Thank you so much, Cara! Happy travels.

Alana - Paper Planes March 11, 2014 - 3:14 am

I love living abroad more than simply traveling because you can start to create a familiar home base, yet still be more aware of what’s around you, like when you’re traveling, than when you’re home, home. Perfect combination.

Brenna Holeman March 11, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Very true, Alana. I love discovering all that London has to offer and I love that I can take my time doing it!

Charlie March 17, 2014 - 1:01 am

Stunning photographs, such vibrant colours!

Brenna Holeman March 17, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Thank you, Charlie!

Stefania @The Italian Backpacker March 24, 2014 - 9:16 pm

I really liked this post: it’s true that you need to find the excitement of travelling even in your own city! Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s difficult. When it’s harder and harder to find that excitement I guess it’s time to move somewhere else, or to spend some time travelling!

Brenna Holeman March 25, 2014 - 12:46 am

Thank you, Stefania! I agree – sometimes it just takes a weekend away and then coming home again to appreciate what’s right in front of you. I doubt I’ll tire of London any time soon!


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